Letter from Bro Dyfrig BFdeB to Bro Duncan PBGV
Howton Grove Priory,
1 October, 2020
Dear Cousin Dunc,
I trust you are very cheery up there in Beyond. It’s a long time since we heard from you, and I must admit I miss you, especially now I’m becoming a bit old and creaky. Twelve last birthday, so no longer a young sprog!
Anyway, I have a theological question for you. What is an angel, and what are these Guardian Angels They are celebrating on 2 October? They seem to think these angel-types stick to Them through thick and thin, but I thought that was our job. Can you enlighten me, please?
Love and licks,
Bro Dyfrig xx
Letter from Bro Duncan PBGV to Bro Dyfrig BFdeB
The Heavenly Houndland
2 October 2020
My dear Bro Dyfrig,
You’ll always be a young sprog in my eyes, no matter that your ginger is now streaked with grey, but I see you have learned some gravitas since we last corresponded. A theological question! That’s one for the books, I must say. I’ll do my best to reply.
There are quite a lot of angels in Beyond so I went and had a chat with my chum Raphael. (He’s the one who accompanied Tobias and his dog to Media, so he’s more dog-aware than most and always saves me some special tit-bit from the heavenly banquet to snack on between meals.) He said that the big yellow catechism book They keep in the library is a good place to start.
I had to overcome my natural reluctance to have anything to do with felines, but, apparently, ‘catechism’ is a Greek word that has nothing to do with cats so can be safely read by the likes of you and me.
I began at paragraph 325, which says God created everything, seen and unseen, and says quite a lot about angels, but stopped at paragraph 343 which says that man is the summit of God’s creation. Not entirely sure about that, but I let it pass.
Get this, though:
329 St Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.'” With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word”.
330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendour of their glory bears witness.
Of course, some of them are too good-looking for their own good and think far too much of themselves. Look at the One Down Below and what happened to him! A warning to us all about vanity, even if we are the handsomest dudes on the block.
Anyway, there’s much more of the same, about how the angels are mighty spirits, messengers of God, singing God’s praises and intimately involved in the life of the Church. St Basil is quoted, ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life’. That’s the role of the Guardian Angel, but I noticed the Church has never defined that as an article of faith. We just accept it as the ‘mind of the Church’. St Jerome, who was regrettably more of a Big Cat man than a Dog man put it this way: ‘How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it. (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II).
You and I probably agree that we share that guardianship role with angels but we have to accept that not everyone recognizes the canine contribution to the economy of salvation, not even some Human Beans. A pity, rather. It would transform their view of the world and make them much nicer.
I was looking down at the world from Beyond and thought to myself how busy all the angels must be, especially the Guardian Angels. There is such a lot of wrongness going on, and Human Beans being thoroughly nasty to one another. St Thomas, who should have been more of a Dog man, given that he was a Domini canis, said that only the lowest orders of angels were sent to guard Human Beans (Summa Theologica I:113:4). That’s one for their pride, isn’t it?
Mind you, if what St Thomas says is true, it means what we dogs do is very important. We have to teach Human Beans so many things — how to be loving, uncomplaining, endlessly forgiving. We can teach them how to adore Him by gazing and gazing with eyes like melting chocolate buttons, and we can use our pester-power for the good of others. Human Beans aren’t blessed with four paws and a big nose, but they can still learn how to be more dog. I did my best with Them, and I’m pleased to see that you continue my work.
Look after Them until we’re all together in Beyond. They’ll thank you one day and recognize your true stature as a servant of the Most High. Indeed, I sometimes wonder if we and our kind aren’t angels in disguise, don’t you?
Bro Duncan xx